Tuesday, July 31, 2007

If you ask me, this is a disciplineable offense

From the Mariners' game recap of last night's huge win, via Lookout Landing:

Fittingly, Ichiro (3-for-4) and catcher Kenji Johjima (1-for-3) had productive performances on Japanese Baseball Night.

There were pregame festivities with drums, music and dancers dressed in colorful outfits.

"I wasn't here, so I didn't get to see any of the performances," Ichiro said, "but when I saw a small clip of it on the TV, I noticed that they were playing Chinese music, so it made me think they didn't comprehend Japan."


Research, please, I beseech you. It wouldn't have taken long.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Marvin Bell's latest

While meandering through Powell's Books (a place that actually has poetry in it, unlike big chains), I picked up Marvin Bell's latest book, Mars Being Red. He writes a bunch about his troubles with the current war. Now, normally, I don't like overtly political poetry, even when I agree with it. But Bell wrote some disarmingly beautiful stuff. He left me breathless--the truth of his lines knocked the wind out of me.

A couple of samples. This is a chunk of "Bagram, Afghanistan, 2002."

They chained him by the wrists to the ceiling.
They must have admired the human form then,
stretched out, for the soldiers were also athletes
trained to shout in unison and be buddies.
By the time his legs had stiffened, a blood clot
was already tracing a vein into his heart.
They said he was dead when the cut him down,
but he was dead the day they arrested him.
Are they feeding the prisoners gravel now?
To make them skilled orators as they confess?
Here stands Demosthenes in the military court,
unable to form the words "my country." What
shall we do, we who are at war but are asked
to pretend we are not? Do we need another
naive apologist to crown us with cliches
that would turn the grass brown above a grave?


Just astonishing. Not all of the book is this good, but when Bell is on, he takes me to the very emotional and ethical places that we're asked to "pretend we are not." That's a capital T truth none of us can afford to pass on.

Too many other good moments to pick a good one (if you grab this at the bookstore or library like you should, let me say two of my favorites are "The Campus in Wartime" and "Cable News Night"). But he knocked me out of the place we've all found, in spite of our better natures, in spite of not wanting to, where we forget about the current tragedy that will shame us in the history books.

I have ten more minutes until 1 a.m.


Bell writes.

Until one, I swore to picture the victims of war.
[...]
In ten minutes, I can relax in the shadows,
sink into the bed, draw up the covers,
and give the ghosts the bum's rush when they hoot
at my deadline.


Those ghosts are more with me because I've read Mars Being Red, and I think that's a good thing.

Just a few more Seattle days...

Most of the packing is already done. We took most of the extraneous stuff out of the house two weeks back when we were showing the house. Now, we need to get the rest out so we can buy carpet, etc.

Today, I packed up every book in the house, except for the six or seven I want immediate access to. That was a helluva lot of boxes of books. We're so very literate around here.

Now, all that's left is:

1. The pictures on the wall.
2. My clothes.
3. The kitchen, which the wife has full domain over.
4. Major furniture and appliances.

So the balance of the day was spent figuring out exactly what company/technique we wanted to use to get our stuff from here in Redmond to an as-yet-uncertain Vancouver location on an as-yet-uncertain date. After a lot of research, I concluded that PODS was the way for us to go, primarily for this reason: we're hiring burly guys to do the lifting. If we'd rented a truck or had a moving company do all the work, we would have needed burly guys:

1. To load in Redmond.
2. To unload to storage in Vancouver.
3. To unload from storage in Vancouver.
4. To unload at the new house when we buy it.

Having PODS eliminates steps 2 and 3 (at about $250-300 per step, mind you). It also includes the first month of storage for all-but-our-imminently-needed worldly possessions (and there's another $150-200) and prevents us from having to drive a truck to Vancouver (22 cents a mile adds up to $80, and that doesn't include the aggravations).

So, yeah. Not a tough decision, all in all.

Not much left to do here. I'll eat at Acapulco Fresh (my favorite local fast-food eatery) one more time, but I don't have too much I want to do again on the eastside...and I'll be back in Seattle often enough that I don't feel a huge sentimental goodbye is needed.

I just want to sell this damn place so we can start the next chapter. But we're thankful to Swankette's parental units for taking us on for what we hope will be a brief bridge.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

News helicopters

My condolences go out to the families and friends of those who died in the Phoenix news helicopter collision.

I have never understood why a live police chase is news. It's dramatic, sure, but news? How does it impact us? Why does it matter?

That's why I don't think I agree with the Phoenix chief of police in pressing charges against the fleeing criminal for the deaths of the helicopter newsmen going to cover him:

Phoenix police Chief Jack Harris suggested to reporters at the scene that the subject of the chase could be charged in connection with the helicopter crash.

"I believe you will want to talk to investigators but I think he will be held responsible for any of the deaths from this tragedy," Harris said. He didn't elaborate.


If two police cars collided when pursuing him, I'd hold him liable; they're doing what they're required to do. But the news helicopters, as I see it, are making a choice, and an iffy one at that. They're not required to go after him, film him, or cover him, and so I can't see how he's responsible for their decision to do so.

I still remember the death of Karen Key in Denver when I was a kid. There was controversy at the time about whether it was safe to fly that day, or even if Key was qualified enough to get the job as helicopter reporter.

It's different now; the story Key wanted to cover, a missing commuter plane, positively dwarfs the newsworthiness of some dude we don't know running from the cops. And yet five--FIVE!--helicopters pursued this "story."

What the reporters' and photographers' families are going through is not worth this silly little chase they were putting their lives on the line to cover. There's no journalistic reason to chase this unknown fleeing man; only entertainment value.

We didn't learn from the death of Karen Key 25 years ago, but maybe, this time, we can re-evaluate our priorities a little.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Mariners

are three innings away from being swept in Texas.

I never once thought they were for real. I hoped it, I prayed it, but the numbers prevented me from thinking it. This will be a six-game losing streak--our third of the year. Each of the last two times we did that, we responded with a vengeance. But the whole team is in a slump, and with Richie Sexson, Raul Ibanez, and Jose Vidro each looking like they're pretty well at the end of their productive years, and with no consistent starters (until Felix matures a little bit), well, I don't see us in it in the final couple of weeks.

The Angels and Indians are helping Seattle out by losing quite often and keeping us in it, but top to bottom, they're simply better teams. I'm happy with the progress the Mariners have made in '07, but I can't delude myself into thinking we're a playoff team. A team with three major holes in its batting order and no starter that scares any opponents doesn't play into October.

Proud of the alma mater

Good old Kenyon College and some of its fellow liberal arts schools (including Oberlin, Wooster, and Sarah Lawrence) won't fill out all of the US News and World Report survey.

Good for them. As one member of Kenyon's class of 2011 said, "I don't really care how much alums give. I care what students think."

It's also good that Kenyon, a school of high quality, makes the move. Kenyon, with an endowment so much smaller than similar schools, has never broken into the tip-top echelon of liberal arts schools...Williams and Amherst do a lot of back-and-forth at #1, if I remember right. Both are, of course, excellent schools, but I don't see how their higher endowments made their students better thinkers or their professors into better teachers. But Kenyon is respected now--named as a "New Ivy" somewhere. I don't expect tip-top schools to join Kenyon...they'll want to trumpet their rankings to their advantage. But if enough great schools that are less-high in the things Newsweek measures follow Kenyon's lead, maybe people will discover that the best undergraduate school for their teenager isn't based on some silly list, but based on fit.

I hate educational rankings. It leads to the yucky gotta-get-in syndrome that harms education--the sweatshirt syndrome I complained about nearly three years ago. It actually discourages students from working...makes education into a commodity rather than something a student does.

Newsweek has joined the fray, now listing The Nation's Best Public High Schools. Jay Mathews, an education writer, measures something worthwhile when he divides the number of AP tests given in a given year by they number of graduating seniors. The resulting number indicates something about rigor and challenge. But "Best High Schools?" Ick. You could totally screw over every special-ed student, every potential artist, have horrible student-teacher rapport, crumbling facilities, and any number of other shortcomings, and be considered a "great" school. The reverse is true. The high school that prepares my autistic nephew for success in the world doesn't register on the list. So while I don't mind Mathews' formula, and believe schools should strive to score well on it, I think printing it under the title "Best American High Schools" is journalistic malpractice.

Additionally, at the high school level, it exacerbates the problem of educational inequity. Powerful parents don't mind that there are bad schools as long as their kid is at a "good" one. All the more chance that their kid gets into a name school, right?

So bravo, Kenyon. You've just increased your esteem in my eyes, and I'm such a purple-bleedin' Lord-and-Lady-lover that this is quite an accomplishment.

The Aloe is packed

I got a terrible sunburn at the Everett AquaSox game yesterday. It's funny...here in Seattle we don't think much about the sun because we see it so rarely. And yesterday was a cool day...maybe got into the 70s, but not much past 75. Great day for a ballgame. Our sunblock is packed...after all, when do I ever need it except on vacations? Alas. Yesterday, over two hours, I absolutely got lobster-level baked.

So today was a sunny day that I stayed in for. It was a productive day: started Julius Caesar, finished off a magazine article I've been asked for, researched movers, kept up on Tim Donaghy coverage, etc.

So here I am. How are you?

Some moving frustrations

Well, as my wife has reported in multiple posts, our condo has been on the market for about a week...but we just took it off. Why?

Although our realtor said we'd sell this place fast due to its location and price, it ain't happening.

We had two people visit last Thursday and one on Friday. I hate the feeling of staying at home trying to keep everything so obscenely neat that I could leave at any given moment, so I've been out of the house a lot, finding friends and family to hang with. Plus my honey and I went to the 'Couv to look over our possible new houses over the weekend, anticipating at least a few people visiting on Saturday (I figured the three Thursday/Friday visitors were a good harbinger.)

Nobody came.

Realtor said that it might be because of the Bite of Seattle, the rainy weather (like that stops Seattleites from doing anything?), or a sale at Nordstroms that kept people out. I find all three to be ridiculous explanations, but she's the pro.

She also suggested that it could just be the summer lull. August is the weakest month for purchases, and we're nearly there.

She also said the place smells like cat, and that she hadn't noticed it the first time, but it smells like it now because or recent humidity. I don't think the smell is cat, but rather paint.

In any event, it's prudent to take this place off the market, pack up everything this weekend (there's not much left, so it won't take long), and be out of here by the end of the week next week. Once gone, we will replace the carpet (which we pay for) and have a nice cleaning done (which we don't).

I don't mind replacing the carpet, since we'll probably make more money on it in the end. But that, along with the moving expenses and storage costs for all our stuff (since we'll be crashing at the in-laws' until our place sells and we can buy a new one), is a lot of money. It won't be any big problem once we sell the condo, since we'll come out ahead enough to absorb it all. But in the meantime, it'll be a financial annoyance.

Arrrgh. But this too shall pass. And at least now I can muss up some pillows and stuff without worrying about strangers judging me.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Something I Said to My Wife As We Watched Evan Almighty Tonight

"Honey, if ever God told me to build an ark, I wouldn't keep it secret from you. I'd tell you."

(pause, thought).

"Of course, that might be because I'd need you to do the lion's share of the work building it."

Tim Donaghy

I'm really mad at this guy, if he did what he did.

Guess what? So is my close personal friend BloggingRef.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Some changes

Jim taught me how to put category labels on here. They are now found on the right, and serve as a way to classify what sort of stuff I think to throw onto this place. Thanks, Jim.

Daily Show one, Hateful Dude zip

I love it when The Daily Show makes some cruel, hateful guy look cruel and hateful.

Check out this story, particularly where John Oliver discusses hospitals with xenophobic prick Colin Hanna.

A sudden misadventure

Just as we solved a relatively minor paint misadventure...well...

I went to pack an old, never-used-anymore printer, which is located atop a fairly tall desk. In the process of trying to get the plug out from behind the desk...well...I knocked the printer to the ground. No big whoop--it was going to the trash anyway.

But then I noticed a problem.

I had severed the thermostat from the wall, and detached part of the metal plate.

I poked and prodded and got it back into place. I then tested to see if the heat would come on.

The heat came on.

It won't turn off.

Just what we needed in July, and at 11:00 PM the day before we list...

It's not a huge deal, since we'll just have the realtor call in an emergency handyman to fix it all up. But it'll be a few hundred bucks.

And I'm still amazed that a printer plugged managed to so mangle a thermostat.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Attention Portland-area residents...

For this past Christmas, I got a 15-game flex package to the Portland Beavers from my wonderful in-laws. I haven't had a chance to use any yet.

Wife and I are going to go to see them play this Saturday night the 21st. If any of you--friends, acquaintances, or even strangers--think you would enjoy going to the game and hanging with Swankette and me, and would be willing to give me $15 for the privilege (I got the damn good tix), and might enjoy Homer Simpson Night Featuring A Guest Appearance and PGE Park, contact me, be it by phone, email, in the comments, or by passenger pigeon. All are welcome.

I'll also be going to the noon game on Monday the 23rd, but most of you poor suckers probably have to work. If not, let me know that too.

Loads going on

because we're both selling and buying a house. The wife has posted many of the highlights. I've got a pretty intense post about schools and educational equity in my head somewhere, but it hasn't yet congealed into a post.

So what you'll get here are a few non-moving-related posts.

**I watched Don't Forget The Lyrics on Fox last week. In some ways, it wasn't a great show...it was glacially slow, for instance, taking two half-hour episodes to get through one contestant. But I'll be TiVoing it for the duration, I'm afraid, because I love the game. It's simple: a contestant sings the first part (from a few lines to over half) of a song, Karaoke-style, to a live band. At a random point, the words will disappear from the screen and the band will go silent, but the singer must continue and sing a predetermined number of words, verbatim, to win escalating amounts of cash.

The earliest songs were terribly easy. To wit:

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
(sing the next four words)


Then they got more middling, like this snippet from "Material Girl":

They can beg and they can plead
But they can't see the light
Because the boy with the cold hard cash
(sing the next four words


I felt like I was cruising. I would have had some troubles with "Two Tickets to Paradise," but might have gotten it with one of the Millionaire-lifeline style helps. And then she got to the half-million dollar song: "Satisfaction." I thought I could have gotten it, but it proved tough. Can you get it?

When I'm driving in my car
And a man comes on the radio
He's telling me more and more
(sing the next nine words)


I think I could have sung the entire rest of the song, but man, that was a damn tough one. I knew the next four words, but after that, I never had a prayer.

Since watching the show, though, I've been imagining playing the game in my car everywhere. I've noticed what I know well, and what I think I know well that I actually don't. I've also noticed that Journey's "Any Way You Want It" had lyrics I didn't know...really, really inane and stupid lyrics. I was a happier man when I just sang along to the chorus.

**A buddy of mine is a high school choir director. Wife and I had dinner with her yesterday, and she was lamenting that she didn't have good songs to sing for this year's Holiday concert. She's digging deep for something fresh in the Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa/Festivus vein. My wife asked "Would you really do a Festivus song?" Friend said: "If somebody wrote one, we'd perform it." Sounds like a dare to me.

So I've downloaded some music freeware and am writing an original Festivus a cappella composition for SATB. This could be good. And there's no way in hell I'd perform it if it were her. But I'm still enjoying writing it.

I haven't done anything that required me writing musical notes since I last arranged a song for my beloved college a cappella group, and that was a decade ago now. Writing one's own stuff is a helluva lot tougher. But I've done an introductory verse and a verse about the Festivus Pole. Two more verses to go: a call-and-response approach to the Airing of the Grievances, and then a big finish with the Feats of Strength. So what if nobody performs it?

**Were people in the 1920s just shorter than people in the 2000s? Wife and I fell in love with a gorgeous 1928 house...until we entered it. There were multiple places where I could bash my head--the stairway, the still-hypothetical-child's room, and yes, even the master bedroom.

"Imagine how well your legs would get in shape," said my glass-is-half-full mother. "All those squats you'd have to do!"

"Yeah," I replied, "but I'd still forget and bash my head to the point of concussion at least once a week. So I'd have the best thighs in the neighborhood...and Parkinson's Disease."

**For the first time in my life next year, I will have three preps: three sections of sophomores, one of juniors, and one of AP Composition. I asked what the sophomores usually read at the new school, and was told sophomores often read Night, Inherit the Wind, and Julius Caesar. I've taught the first two, which is nice, although each is so short that it'll really only be about a week and a half each. (33 weeks to go!) Unbelievably, I have never even read Julius Caesar. I'll get on that this week. Don't tell me the ending, okay?

**We'll lead off AP Comp with Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn, which I read last week. Recommended. It's fun, but will still provoke good, solid, deep thoughts in the kiddoes...censorship, the role of a government, the purpose of writing and reading. We'll be chatting big time. Bring it on!

**How're y'all doing?

More on moving later.

TRP

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Who I'm rooting for in Top Chef

I don't really watch Top Chef. My lovely wife does. But I've picked someone to root for this season. I noticed I was rooting for Lia, and I couldn't figure out why. But after looking for a moment, I figured out why: she looks very much like Sue Bird, my pretend girlfriend.

Lia first, then Sue. Am I right, people?



Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sports journalism now and then

I'm almost at the end of Dave Kindred's book Sound and Fury, which I got for Christmas but am just finishing off now. It's very interesting. First of all, it's interesting in format--it's a double biography of Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell. It makes sense, of course; it's virtually impossible to think of one of them without the other, and their careers followed similar paths: they were new and revolutionary in their own ways in the '60s, peaked and overexposed in the '70s and brought back to earth quickly (and, in may ways, sadly) in the '80s.

I'm enjoying the Ali portions, of course. I feel like I know a lot about him already, but Kindred portrays Ali as fearful of Elijah Muhammad and naive on many different points through his life. Kindred also foregrounds the intense diminution of skills over the four years he lost when his title was stripped--the Ali who won the title for the first time was "The Greatest," and the Ali who won it a second and third time not nearly as good a fighter.

But the Cosell chapters have me really thinking about sports journalism.

I only became cognizant of Cosell as he slid down the downhill side of his career. I began watching Monday Night Football as soon as I was old enough to stay up that late--1980 or so--so I only really saw the last four years of Cosell's career at MNF, and wasn't old enough to see the bitterness that Kindred describes.

Kindred also describes how Cosell felt wasted in sports, and felt that a man of his seriousness needed to be doing something more important. He even suggested that he should replace Harry Reasoner and Barbara Walters as the anchor for ABC News. (Seriously, could you even imagine that? Who on earth would tune in to Cosell over Cronkite?)

And yet, when 90% of life is showing up, Cosell did some very important work not just in sports (by speaking out against boxing's brutality in the middle 1980s) but even in subtler ways, for US race relations (by calling Ali by his Muslim name when few did and by giving a fair on-air hearing to John Carlos and Tommie Smith, to name two examples).

The problem, of course, was the packaging. Cosell's voice and arrogance could make me want to shy away from him even when he was correct. Still, I appreciate him stepping in there.

Does Cosell have a modern equivalent?

I'd say he does in Bob Costas. I like Costas a lot more than I ever liked Cosell. But there are far more similarities than differences between the two: their frequent grappling with big issues, their expansion to the worlds outside of sports (Costas far more successfully than Cosell), their undoubted places at the peaks of sportscasting leading to something more that never quite overshadowed their association with sports.

If the next Muhammad Ali came along, would current sportscasters be as supportive as Cosell was? I'd like to think Costas would, but I know nothing about his politics--the only issues I know are his views on the wild card and the DH (both of which I agree with, by the way). The point is, however, that I think that Costas sees and understands not only sports' cultural importance, but their transcendence. In fact, I think he understands it better...I can't picture Costas badmouthing being a "mere" sports reporter as Cosell did.

I don't think anybody else could do it as well, and I think it's because of the saturation of sports on cable and on the radio. Sports can -become- the 24/7 world for anyone who wants them to be.

I'll have more on this tomorrow...er, later today. The book also has me thinking of what happens when sports and the real world collide on live TV, and what that can/should/does look like.

Geez. It's 1:30 AM. Summer brings out my night owl, even on days when I get up early.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What could kick butt more than...

An inside-the-park home run.
At the All-Star Game.
By Ichiro!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

I've been singing this all day...

I've discovered a damn funny couple of guys--a hilarious satirical guitaring duo from New Zealand who call themselves Flight of the Conchords.

I've been cleaning the house to the backlog of TiVoed Lettermans...so I just saw this today. It's a send-up of every fourth song on the radio for the past four years. Check it out...I LOVED it, and am investigating these guys further.

Close race for my favorite line. It's either "...depending on the street," "...with a kebab," or "...like ceramics or something." So many choices! Brilliant stuff.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

2007 TRP vs. pankleb MLB Grudge Match of Death Halfway Report

At the quarter pole, I had a slight lead. How about now?

Numbers are as follows:

Current extrapolation/TRP prediction/pankleb prediction/who's winning

AL EAST

Boston 102/91/90 TRP by 1
Toronto 79/83/84 TRP by 1
Yankees 79/93/96 TRP by 3
Baltimore 72/68/69 pankleb by 1
Tampa Bay 64/68/68 tie

AL CENTRAL

Cleveland 97/85/91 pankleb by 6
Detroit 96/89/80 TRP by 9
Minnesota 83/83/85 TRP by 2
White Sox 72/89/83 pankleb by 6
Kansas City 69/65/70 pankleb by 3

AL West

Angels 98/88/90 pankleb by 2
Seattle 92/79/76 TRP by 3
Oakland 83/84/84 tie
Texas 69/76/80 TRP by 4

NL East

Mets 90/83/93 pankleb by 4
Atlanta 84/79/80 pankleb by 1
Philadelphia 82/91/85 pankleb by 6
Florida 75/69/78 pankleb by 3
Washington 66/58/66 pankleb by 8

NL Central

Milwaukee 92/89/80 TRP by 9
Cubs 82/84/86 TRP by 2
St. Louis 76/87/90 TRP by 3
Pittsburgh 72/70/63 TRP by 7
Houston 70/79/73 pankleb by 6
Cincinnati 62/81/73 pankleb by 8

NL West

San Diego 93/85/80 TRP by 5
Dodgers 92/86/93 pankleb by 5
Arizona 89/90/89 pankleb by 1
Colorado 80/80/76 TRP by 4
San Francisco 71/74/74 even

Overall, Pankleb has claimed the lead, but by a mere 7 games. This sucker ain't over.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Voice of America

Swankette and I continued with a little tradition last night...the 4th of July Minor League Baseball Road Trip. We're at the fifth annual now...and that's pretty cool. We didn't do a big doohickey like last year's trip to California, or even a little one like the previous year's overnighter in the Tri-Cities and Yakima. This year, we just headed to Tacoma, since my baby had to work today.

The game was tight and fun, and the fireworks were pretty good too, and I like Cheney Stadium. But what I found was interesting, was the sounds behind the fireworks.

Instead of the usual Sousa and Lee Greenwood, they led off with an excerpt from a stirring speech by President George W. Bush.

That's not the way to make me feel patriotic.

Not long later, there was a similar speech by President Clinton.

It's obviously not politics, because while I'm a fan of Bill and miss him terribly, I can't say that hearing his voice stirs patriotism in me.

Which led me here...Whose spoken voice (no singing allowed) do I most associate with America? Whose voice sparks patriotic stirrings in me, in the way that I imagine an Englishman is stirred by Churchill's voice?

Let's start with presidents. I wouldn't recognize FDR's voice were it not repeated so often in David Letterman's "Great Moments in Presidential Speeches" bit. Other than that, I could recognize the voices of every President from Kennedy to now except Ford. But which stirs my patriotism? They played Kennedy's "Ask not what your country can do for you" snippet in Tacoma last night. But I can't say that Kennedy's voice itself makes me feel patriotic...too many strings attached, as with Clinton. Strangely, among Presidents, the voice that makes me feel most patriotic is probably Reagan's. I hated him as President, but he's an actor, so he knows how to produce emotion with that Midwestern baritone. Nevertheless, I'd get to thinking about Iran/Contra and would feel ashamed rather than proud or honored to be American.

It didn't take me long to come up with three nominees for The Voice of America.

The first nominee is Charlton Heston. What a voice. I'd listen to him read the phone book; I'd certainly enjoy him reading the Declaration of Independence or Emancipation Proclamation. But, like with Reagan, his gorgeous, expressive voice would fade as I imagined him saying "From my cold, dead hands." Too distracting.

Second is Maya Angelou. Her history as a singer and poet means she could make anything sound good. But I wasn't a big fan of her Clinton inaugural poem, and I guess if I disqualify someone for righty politics, I could disqualify someone for being lefty too.

But Angelou and Heston are also-rans. This competition wasn't close. There's no doubt who the Voice of America is.

It's James Earl Jones.

For starters, he's already the de facto voice of America. My kid sister pointed out that when she lived abroad (and when I lived abroad), it was James Earl Jones' voice that was inextricably associated with home. When I wanted American news, I'd hear Jones saying "This is CNN." (I have to bold face it...Jones always sounds like he's speaking in bold face.) When I'd call home, Jones' voice would say "AT&T"...he'd introduce me to home...the last voice I'd hear before that of my girlfriend or family.

His voice is so famous that I barely even associate it with Darth Vader anymore. I think of his big soliloquy as Terence Mann in Field of Dreams. I think of his work in August Wilson's plays. I'm reminded that he was Mufasa in The Lion King. Talk about a wide range. I don't know a stinkin' thing about his politics. In fact, as he says in his IMDB biography: "My voice is for hire. My endorsement is not for hire. I will do a voice-over, but I cannot endorse without making a different kind of commitment. My politics are very personal and subjective." I like that.

I poked around looking for a DVD of Jones reading patriotic passages. In the process, I found that he has read the Bible and some selected quotes used by Howard Zinn. I may need to get both of those.

In all seriousness, though...a voice treasured by regular Bible-listeners and by Howard Zinn? A voice that encompasses Darth Vader, Mustafa, baseball, and the struggle for Civil Rights? A voice that can be perfect evil and perfect good? A voice that is willing to do "Top Ten Words That Sound Great When Spoken By James Earl Jones," which included "Mellifluous," "Verisimilitude," "Guppy" and "Pinhead"?

That's my man. James Earl Jones, you are the voice that gets my patriotism cooking.

Happy 4th. My present to you, my dear readers, is this link.

May we become the nation we claim to be.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Please, drive carefully...

The #1 spot in Washington where drivers go 90 miles an hour or above?

This story tells me it's this stretch of I-90 I've been on fairly often.

Not going 90 mind you. The fastest I've ever driven a car is 85...on a deserted road somewhere in Indiana. I was 18 and on my way to look at colleges to transfer into. My sister's red Mazda. The Beatles' "Oh! Darling" on the tape deck. I looked down and went "Yeesh. Good songs make me go fast." It wasn't that bad...my rather strait-laced sister (Love ya, Deb) wouldn't have tolerated any foolishness in her car, and she didn't say a word.

So I can't even imagine why anyone would ever willingly go 90...especially in a spot that's hardly deserted.

I'd better get out of here. Of course, on my way, I'll have to drive through the #2 spot (I-5 in Fife) and the #3 spot (I-5 in Woodland).

Perhaps I'll take the train.

Happy Anniversary

Today is the eighth anniversary of me getting my first teaching job. I remember my principal woke me up and said "Good news, buddy, it worked out. I'm prepared to offer you the job." I accepted. It was my first choice.

I celebrated that anniversary today by taking my second teaching job.

My new principal called me at 8:30 AM...and this time, I actually was awake. He offered me a job. Much to my surprise, it includes AP English (unclear as yet whether it's Composition or Lit). I accepted. It was my first choice.

It's a one-year gig, but I'm not worried about that...I plan on showing up and being so good that they can't possibly get rid of me. No school of any size ever goes a year without losing at least one Humanities teacher, so things feel good here.

From now on, July 2nd shall be celebrated as TRP Gets A Job Day.